Discover New Artwork in L.A.'s Mecca for Murals
A Walking Tour of Street Art in the Arts District
The walls of the Downtown L.A. Arts District are in a constant state of flux. The neighborhood is known for its murals, and while some are more permanent than others, there is always the feeling that all of it is ephemeral. Murals give way to the elements, their colors fading with time. Some are blotted out as walls are taken over by new artists. The Arts District you see when you visit here one summer may not be the one you see the following year. The lesson here is always take photos! Read on for recent additions to the neighborhood's street art collection that you can visit while walking around the Arts District.
1. Hueman - "Bloom"
Hueman's work crosses disciplines and genres - she has collaborated with brands like Nike and Nyx and has shown at new contemporary galleries Corey Helford and Merry Karnowsky. In May 2016, Hueman created Bloom (701 E. 3rd St.), a brightly colored piece that covers the massive eastern wall of the Neptune Building that faces Joel Bloom Square. Bloom pays tribute to the late community activist for whom the square is named.
The wall previously featured Cream of the Crop, a collaboration between husband-wife duo, DABSMYLA - their portion of the mural resembled a slightly naughty advertisement from the 1950s - and twin brothers How and Nosm, with their wonderfully intricate black, white and red artwork. Cream of the Crop was painted over in April 2016, to the dismay of the artists and Arts District residents.
2. Wrdsmith - “Kiss”
One Santa Fe (300 S. Santa Fe Ave.) is a sizable shopping and dining complex with a gleaming, modern look that stands in contrast to the old brick buildings and worn warehouses that make up so much of the Arts District. Yet, this is becoming a street art hub as well. WRDSMTH, the local artist known for text-heavy pieces, brought a “Kiss” to the center in February 2017. The message: “Kiss the one you love every chance you get.”
3. Annie Preece - ediBOL
You won't have to wander far inside One Santa Fe to find another mural. The courtyard-facing facade of ediBOL (300 S. Santa Fe Ave., Ste Q) is covered with wrinkled, almost-melting faces from Annie Preece, aka Love Annie. In addition to exhibitions in multiple cities, the local artist appeared on the street art competition series “Street Art Throwdown” and has shown at Art Basel.
4. Tristan Eaton - "Rollins Avenue"
Head back down towards the “Bloom” mural, but before you return to the starting point, hang a left on Traction. Across from Wurstkuche, you'll find Rollins Avenue (744 E. 3rd St.), a recent addition to the neighborhood from Tristan Eaton. Accomplished in both the designer toy and street art worlds, Eaton's work has turned up on the walls of Los Angeles with some frequency. In fact, this piece is his third mural on the same wall. Made in 2016, the mural features a portrait of Eaton's aunt, Sheila Rollins, a longtime Arts District resident, as the focal point.
5. Kent Twitchell - “Ed Ruscha Monument”
Kent Twitchell is a legend in the L.A. mural scene. He's been painting across the city for decades, and as one would imagine, some of his most beloved pieces have been erased over the years. That was the case for his original portrait of the artist Ed Ruscha. Fortunately, Twitchell had the chance to do an updated version of Ed Ruscha Monument (303 S. Hewitt St.) on the side of the American Hotel in the Arts District. The piece is 30 feet tall, but its position amidst the other local buildings makes it a bit difficult to see at street level. If you try to get up close, you might miss it, so take a long glance at the corner of Traction.
6. Colossal Media
Colossal Media (418 Molino St.) is a bi-coastal company that specializes in hand-painted, outdoor advertising art. Their L.A. headquarters features a massive, three-wall collage of images that will prompt you to do a double-take. Did they really put Barth from “You Can't Do That on Television” on their building? In between the pop culture references are smaller characters painted in a style that's a cross between Sergio Aragones' “Groo” comics and “The Regular Show.” You'll have to walk a bit to check out this piece, but it's worth it.
7. Christina Angelina and Fanakapan
You'll find some of the Arts District's coolest and most recent murals on 4th Street (966 E. 4th St. (at Merrick Street)). However, pay attention to the street signs when you're walking around, because there's a 4th Street and a 4th Place - it's easy to end up walking in circles. On 4th Street near the SCI-Arc campus, you'll find a large and beautiful collaboration between L.A.-based Christina Angelina (aka Starfighter) and British artist Fanakapan. Completed in January 2017, the striking image of two people engaged in an intimate moment is a breathtaking, and almost uncomfortable, sight on this very public street.
8. Ricky Watts - The Container Yard
Plan on spending a good amount of time wandering around the edges of The Container Yard (800 E. 4th St.), a sprawling Arts District space known for its support of street artists. On the front of the building, you'll find a new piece from Ricky Watts. Based in Northern California, Watts uses spray paint to build winding, multi-colored pieces. Here, bright hues form tube-like shapes that weave in and out of each other as if it's a big mess of intertwined gummy worms.
9. King Raptuz - The Container Yard
On The Container Yard's exterior wall facing 4th Street, you'll find a massive piece of Americana from Milan-based street artist Raptuz. Painted in the fall of 2016, Raptuz's mural brings together a lowrider, a cowboy and lots of palm trees in a geometric style that he calls “broken window futurism.” The sharp edges and fragments of color create an effect that looks almost like a mirage in photos and under the bright sunlight. It's an unusual and intriguing take on the images that are so commonly used to illustrate California and the U.S.
10. Nychos - "Captain Hercules Fighting Hydra"
In July 2015, Austrian street artist Nychos created "Captain Hercules Fighting Hydra" on a back wall at The Container Yard. Nychos makes creepy, geeky images and his contribution to the Arts District is no exception. Nychos' skeleton warrior charges off the wall on a skeletal pegasus. His means of defense for battle is a red, white and blue shield in the style of Captain America.
11. RETNA - ROW DTLA
On the edge of the Arts District is the 30-acre Southern Pacific complex, a collection of nine buildings that previously housed American Apparel's headquarters, currently hosts the weekly Smorgasburg L.A. and is set to become a shopping center called ROW DTLA (777 S. Alameda St.). Street art star RETNA created a massive piece along 7th Street - the artist's signature script covers the sides of the former American Apparel HQ and adjacent buildings. The location makes RETNA's work a bit out of the way if you're walking to check out the other pieces on this list. However, the mural is so large that you'll get a good view of it from Alameda.